Cardinal among 10 charged over London property deal

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Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu is to stand trial in a Vatican court alongside nine others over a London property deal.

The charges against the cardinal include embezzlement and abuse of office. The cardinal, who helped to arrange the initial investment, denies any wrongdoing, and in a statement released by his lawyers claimed to be the victim of a plot.

Last year, Becciu was stripped of his rights and privileges as a cardinal, and forced by Pope Francis to resign as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints over an alleged donation of Church money to his brothers. He denied wrongdoing.

Also charged in connection with the purchase of the £300m luxury property is René Brülhart, formerly head of the Vatican's financial watchdog unit, who has denied the charges.

Italian brokers Gianluigi Torzi and Raffaele Mincione were indicted on charges of embezzlement, fraud and money laundering.

Monsignor Mauro Carlino is accused of extortion and abuse of office.

The trial is set to begin on 27 July and follows a two-year investigation into the purchase of the property at 60 Sloane Avenue, in Chelsea.

The investigation was launched in July 2019 after questions were raised by the Institute for Works of Religion - commonly known as the Vatican Bank. 

Announcing the charges, the Vatican said that in addition to Britain, the investigations involved commissions in Jersey, the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Switzerland.

They "have brought to light a vast network of relationships with operators in the financial markets that have generated substantial losses for the Vatican finances, having also drawn on the resources intended for the personal charitable works of the Holy Father," the Vatican said.

"The judicial initiative is directly related to the indications and reforms of His Holiness Pope Francis, in the work of transparency and rehabilitation of Vatican finances; work that, according to the accusation, was countered by speculative illegal activities and detrimental to reputation in the terms indicated in the request for trial," it added.